Laptops: How to buy the best laptop Buying the best multimedia laptop

Multimedia laptop lifestyle

If you want your laptop to double as a multimedia centre for films, games or video editing, a multimedia model is what you'll need. They tend to be mid-sized but powerful models, and can be moved from room-to-room easily, though you wouldn't want to carry them around all day too often. 

The laptops are ideal for those who want an all-in-one laptop and entertainment solution, for example in a bedroom. 

Take a look at the how the latest laptops for entertainment are rated by the Which? experts in our multimedia laptop reviews.

What makes a good multimedia laptop?

  • Fast performance You don't want time lags or jerky pictures ruining 3D games or high definition (HD) films. For that you'll want a powerful processor - ideally a minimum of Intel's Core i5 processor or AMD's Athlon II range. At least 6GB of Ram should speed things up further. Ram is your laptop's short-term memory and ensures your laptop doesn't grind to a halt when running multiple programs at once.
  • Separate graphics card A separate graphics card will give graphics performance a boost compared to using the built-in graphics that come with the processor. Look out for Nvidia and ATI graphics cards with their own dedicated memory (Ram).
  • Good sound quality This doesn't necessarily mean looking for branded audio link ups with laptop manufacturers, though we have seen some improvement in the quality of these recently. You will want some well-rounded built-in speakers that go up to a good volume for this kind of usage. If you're not happy with the sound on your laptop you can always buy separate speakers or listen though headphones, which generally improves the sound. 
  • High resolution display Look for a minimum 1,600 x 900 resolution screens that should make whatever you're watching look crisp and sharp. Screen quality is not just about the number of pixels though and is something our laptop experts rate in our lab tests. If you have a little more money to spend, a 1,920 x 1,080 screen (full-HD) makes everything look sharper, and affords more space for viewing documents side-by-side.
  • Blu-ray drive A Blu-ray reader or writer is often an option you can upgrade to on a laptop if you are buying direct from the manufacturer, an essential for avid film fans.

Features you don't need

  • Portability Though it's something to consider depending on how and where you think you'll want to use your multimedia laptop, size and weight aren't as much of a priority as with some other laptop types. 
  • 3D Some laptops promise 3D functionality but what this means in practice is that you can output 3D content to a compatible 3D TV. That's fine if that's what you want to do, but don't get sucked in by the blurb that might make you believe you have a full 3D laptop. 
  • Long battery life A good multimedia laptop should give you around four to five hours of battery life. As these laptops are more powerful than some, they can eat through the battery life fairly quickly. If you're not likely to be far from a power point the majority of the time this shouldn't be a priority.

To see our top recommendations for all laptop types, take a look at the Which? Best Buy laptops

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